Beautiful women may be more likely to have affairs because of a sex hormone linked to attractiveness and flirtatiousness, new research has found.
Those with the most oestradiol, a form of oestrogen, consider themselves more attractive and are found more attractive by others.
They are also more likely to have affairs and change partners more regularly, a team of scientists found.
Women in this group tend to be less satisfied with their current lovers – and less committed to them, according to the psychologists.
The researchers at the University of Texas suggest these women engage in “opportunistic serial monogamy” – being open to flings and moving on to a new relationship if a higher-quality mate becomes available.
Dr Kristina Durante, a psychologist and author of the report, said: “Physically attractive women receive more male attention and, when in relationships, are more likely to be the targets of mate poaching. “Attractive women also have especially high mating standards.
“Because it’s difficult to obtain a partner who is a good provider and also has good genes, women often have to trade off between having a long-term mate who provides continual material resources and more physically attractive, short-term sexual partners with good genetic resources.
“However, highly attractive women demand greater amounts of both types of resources in a male partner, in addition to good parenting and partner skills. Thus, physically attractive women may not only have more alternatives but also high standards that are difficult to satisfy.
“Accordingly, they may have fewer reasons to be committed to any particular partner if higher quality potential mates are available.”
Many a man has found to his cost that no woman likes to be told she is ruled by her hormones but oestradiol is linked to female fertility and reproductive health.
Previous research has shown oestradiol, which is similar to testosterone in men, fuels a lust for power with single women and those who are not on the Pill particularly vulnerable to the vagaries of the sex hormone.
In the study, published in the Royal Society’s journal Biology Letters, Dr Durante and colleagues took saliva samples from fifty-two female students aged 17 to 30 at two stages of their menstrual cycle to measure their hormone levels.
They were also questioned about their sexual histories and asked to rate their own looks before two male and seven female undergraduates blind to the research were invited to score their attractiveness from full-body photos.
Dr Durante said: “Women with higher oestradiol reported a greater likelihood of flirting, kissing and having a serious affair with someone other than their primary partner and were marginally more likely to date another man.”
But while high-oestradiol women had significantly more long-term relationships the hormone was not related to the likelihood of one-night stands.
Dr Durante said: “The results suggest although high-oestradiol women may not subjectively prefer long – over short – term relationships, they nonetheless adopt a strategy of serial monogamy.”
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